Brainstrummings from a Bug-Eyed Bookworm

Tiff is a PhD student in English literature at UC-Berkeley. She takes no prisoners, bars no holds, holds no bars.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Circulation of Hippopotami

One thing that I do like about Berkeley is the presence of quietly eccentric people in the area. By "quietly eccentric people", I mean people whose eccentricity
1. doesn't involve threatening or insulting anyone
2. doesn't involve detaining anyone in conversation for an overly lengthy period of time
3. doesn't involve being pushy and obnoxious

So, an example of a non-quietly eccentric person would be the old guy who detained Justin and me at Indian Rock in a one-sided conversation about how he had to carry the burden of recycling properly in the neighbourhood, how all his old friends had gotten rich and established and couldn't be bothered to care about such things anymore, and how I was Asian and so was his wife. This was at night and he did this all while holding a very large stick in his hands (which he was using as a walking-staff).

An example of a quietly eccentric person would be the old guy who walks around Berkeley with a feather in his cap and a backpack with a sign on it reading, "If you need someone to talk to" or something like that. Just a quiet invitation for the curious, and perhaps the lonely.

I would even class the little old Asian man who sometimes stands on a box on Bancroft and Telegraph yelling "Happy, happy, happy" while holding signage that reads, "Bush is the devil" as borderline quietly eccentric. He's far less pushy than the undergrads who inform you that you don't care about Earth's future and you're an enemy of mankind if you don't sign their petition.

The most recent encounter I've had with a quietly eccentric person was in the check-out line at the produce market I go to. A friend had already told me of "the guy who gives out little plastic animals" who frequents that market, but I'd forgotten about it until the old guy in front of me whispered, "Psst," and discreetly held out to me a little plastic hippo (pictured below).

Front View

Side View
It made me smile. Something also effected by money circulating in my direction, but there's something more whimsical and downright cute about circulating hippopotami. Even though he/she (I can't tell which, for there are no visible reproductive organs) is still sitting on my desk, I think I will circulate him/her to someone else sometime soon.

Does this mean that I support the widespread usage of plastic hippopotami as a medium of currency?